Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Au Chic Resto Pop

Showing at the Hot Docs Film Festival: Au Chic Resto Pop, directed by Tahani Rached

Synopsis from the Hot Docs website:

Everybody’s welcome at the Resto Pop, a restaurant run by a group of “misfits, outcasts, losers and punks” that caters to single moms, hungry kids, the poor and unemployed in Montreal’s East End. The film plunges us into the dynamic social and political world of the restaurant as the staff prepares and serves food that would otherwise be thrown out because of minor imperfections. Structured around autobiographical songs written and performed by the staff, Au Chic Resto Pop mutates the participatory documentary form into an innovative “docu-musical.” People come not only for the healthy $1 meals, but to celebrate birthdays, hold graduation ceremonies for elementary school students, or just hang out and socialize over a good dinner. The film shines with the music, hopes, and dreams of marginalized people struggling to take control of their diets, their jobs, and their lives. - Lynne Fernie

This video appears to be the entire movie, but it is in unsubtitled (Canadian) French. You win some, you lose some.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Divorce Iranian Style

Showing at the Hot Docs Film Festival: Divorce Iranian Style, directed by Kim Longinotto

Synopsis from the Hot Docs website:

Longinotto’s first film in Iran, Divorce Iranian Style, takes us into a divorce court where Longinotto and Ziba Mir-Hosseini spent several weeks deftly documenting the intricacies of marital relations and gender politics in Iranian culture. The film focuses on women in the Imam Khomeini Judicial Complex in Tehran who are trying to divorce their husbands, a highly controversial and difficult endeavour. The filmmakers were allowed unprecedented access and took a vérité approach, letting the activities of the court tell the story. Longinotto, who operated the camera, relied on Farsi-speaking Mir-Hosseini to touch her arm to re-direct her attention to a character or signify the end of a scene. The situations of the women seeking divorce vary, but throughout this exceptional film one thing remains clear: all the women are strong, determined, and outspoken, an image of Iranian women heretofore not seen in the West. - Shannon Abel

Thursday, March 25, 2010

In Theaters: Bluebeard (Barbe bleue)

Opening this weekend at the IFC Center in New York: Bluebeard, directed by Catherine Breillat

Ooh, this looks so creepy... can't wait!

Synopsis from AllMovie:

Controversial filmmaker Catherine Breillat puts a new spin on an ancient story in this multileveled drama. In France in the mid-'50s, Catherine (Lola Créton) enjoys toying with her younger sister, Anne (Daphné Baiwir), by reading her the story of the murderous and oft-married Bluebeard, embellishing the story with plenty of gore and scaring the child out of her wits. As Catherine rereads the story, we're taken back to the year 1697, as Lord Bluebeard (Dominique Thomas) prepares to make Marie-Catherine (also played by Créton) his seventh wife. Marie-Catherine's youth and innocence make her an especially attractive quarry to Bluebeard, and rather than murder her right away, he decides to wait a while in order to savor the terrible joy of claiming her life. However, as Bluebeard becomes caught in a cycle of events that keep him from following through on his wife's murder, the two slowly become something like a normal couple and Marie-Catherine begins to turn the tables on her spouse. Barbe Bleue (aka Bluebeard) received its world premiere at the 2009 Berlin International Film Festival.

Dancing Across Borders

Opening at the Quad Cinema in New York this weekend: Dancing Across Borders, directed by Anne H. Bass

Synopsis from the film's website:

On a trip to Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia in January 2000, filmmaker Anne Bass came across a sixteen-year-old boy who moved her immensely with his amazing natural charm and grace as a dancer. A longtime devotee of the world of dance, Bass felt compelled to give this young boy the opportunity to leave his home and follow a dream that he could not yet have fully imagined. From the serene countryside of Southeast Asia to the halls of New York’s School of American Ballet to the stage of the Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle, Dancing Across Borders peeks behind the scenes into the world of dance and chronicles the intimate and triumphant story of a boy who was discovered, and who only much later discovered all that he had in himself.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Hubble 3D

Opening this weekend: Hubble 3D, directed by Toni Myers

From the movie's website:

Experience the gripping story - full of hope, crushing disappointment, dazzling ingenuity, bravery, and triumph — in Hubble 3D, the seventh awe-inspiring film from the award-winning IMAX Space Team.

Through the power of IMAX 3D, Hubble 3D will enable movie-goers to journey through distant galaxies to explore the grandeur and mysteries of our celestial surroundings, and accompany space-walking astronauts as they attempt the most difficult and important tasks in NASA's history. The film will offer an inspiring and unique look into the Hubble Space Telescope's legacy and highlight its profound impact on the way we view the universe and ourselves.

In Theaters: The Runaways

Hello daddy, hello mom! I'm your ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb!

Opening this weekend: The Runaways, directed by Floria Sigismondi

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Love Hurts

Showing at the Portland Women's Film Festival: Love Hurts, written and directed by Barra Grant

Synopsis from the movie's website:

Ben Bingham (Richard E. Grant) has slipped into a fossilized middle-age, unlike his vibrant wife Amanda (Carrie-Anne Moss). When she finally leaves him, Ben is at a loss. He drowns himself in gin and refuses to get out of his pajamas until his popular 17 year-old son Justin (Johnny Pacar) takes over. He changes Ben's "look" and pushes him out into the social scene. Before Ben knows what is happening, he is the most popular single man in town, pursued by his nurse (Jenna Elfman), his trainer (Janeane Garofalo), and karaoke-singing twins. Things change when Justin falls in love for the first time and now finds his father's lifestyle incredibly superficial. Ben is forced to refocus, recapture his humanity, his heart, and most importantly, his wife... who is now with another man.

Earth Made of Glass

Showing at the Tribeca Film Festival: Earth Made of Glass, directed by Deborah Scranton

Synopsis from the TFF website:

A president and a citizen—bound together by a profound love of country and an unquenchable desire to see the truth revealed—fight to uncover the mystery behind a murder and France's hidden role in the horrific 1994 Rwandan genocide. This powerful investigative documentary from the director of The War Tapes (best doc, TFF '06) is driven by the inspiring and uplifting stories of Rwandan president Paul Kagame and genocide survivor Jean-Pierre Sagahutu.

The website is under construction, but eventually it'll be here.


Showing at the Portland Women's Film Festival: Stages, directed by Meerkat Media Arts Collective

Synopsis from the PWFF website:

In New York City's changing Lower East Side, a group of older Puerto Rican women and inner-city youth come together to create an original play out of the stories of their lives. Over twenty weeks, the participants confront stereotypes and examine their own histories, exploring themes of immigration, relationships, aging and coming of age. Woven together, their stories take on new meaning, first as they are spoken across generations, and later when they are performed for a sold-out show. In response to a political climate that assigns little value to community arts initiatives, Stages offers an intimate portrait of an unlikely ensemble, transformed by the liberating power of their own stories.

The Arbor

Showing at the Tribeca Film Festival: The Arbor, directed by Clio Barnard

Synopsis from the TFF website:

Brilliantly blurring the borders of narrative and documentary filmmaking, artist-cum-director Clio Barnard beautifully reconstructs the fascinating true story of troubled British playwright Andrea Dunbar and her tumultuous relationship with her daughter. Working from two years of audio interviews, Barnard uses classic documentary techniques, actors, theatrical performance, and Dunbar's own neighborhood to generate a unique cinematic feast while unraveling the truths of a dark family past.

American Mystic

Showing at the Tribeca Film Festival later this month: American Mystic, directed by Alex Mar

I would just like to take a moment to thank the Tribeca Film Festival for including this list of movies directed by women, so I don't have to Google Image Search every unfamiliar name. Thanks!

Synopsis from the TFF website:

Set against a vivid backdrop of American rural landscapes, Alex Mar's meditative documentary artfully weaves together the stories of three young Americans exploring alternative religion: a pagan priestess in California mining country, a Spiritualist in upstate New York, and a Native American father and sundancer in South Dakota, all yearning for fulfilling spirituality in disparate but often strikingly similar ways.

No trailer up as yet, but here is an interview with Alex Mar about making the film.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Raspberry Magic

Showing at the Portland Women's Film Festival: Raspberry Magic, written and directed by Leena Pendharkar

Synopsis from the film's website:

Raspberry Magic is a coming-of-age story about an 11-year-old girl who believes she must win the science fair in order to bring her father back after he runs out on the family. She blames herself for her parents' problems, and takes charge when her mother falls into a deep depression.

Set behind the backdrop of a beautiful Pacific Northwest forest, Monica's experiment uses touch therapy to help raspberries grow faster. She asks, is it nature or nurture that can truly help a being grow? Does it even matter? Through her ups and downs with her family, she learns that it's a complex question, and the answer isn't so simple.

Sons of Perdition

Showing at the Tribeca Film Festival: Sons of Perdition, directed by Jennliyn Merten and Tyler Measom

Synopsis from the film's website:

Sons of Perdition is a rare, inside look at polygamist teens that have become religious refugees in mainstream America. The film reveals the hidden world of polygamy through the eyes of exiled teenage boys and girls, and the dictatorial prophet who has banished them from their families, community, and religious salvation. The documentary explores the heartbreaking losses and hopeful determination of these young exiles as they fend for themselves in a strange new world. With unprecedented access, Sons of Perdition captures the raw, daily struggle of polygamy’s lost children and the extraordinary story of their survival.

The trailer is not up on YouTube yet, but you can watch it here.

Edited to add: The trailer is up! Thanks to our lovely commenter Give Measom, here it is for you—


Showing at the Portland Women's Film Festival: Motherland, directed by Jennifer Steinman

Synopsis from the film's website:

An honest and intimate look at the complexities of grief and healing, Motherland is about resilience, triumph of the human spirit and the power of unconditional love. It also reminds us of the vastly different ways in which disparate cultures confront deeply felt personal challenges.

Each year over eight million families around the world suffer the loss of a child. In Jennifer Steinman’s moving and inspiring documentary film, a 17-day trip to South Africa transforms the lives of six grieving women from across the US. Unexpectedly and eight thousand miles from home, each finds comfort and healing in a landscape that appears, at first, to offer little more than melancholy.

Prior to their journey, the six intrepid women featured in the film have each suffered the death of a child but otherwise have little in common. And although the anticipation of a long, emotional journey with a group of strangers evokes anxiety, the women all share a desire to make sense of their tragedies and to move forward with their lives...

Debbi works as a paramedic in a rural Northern California town. Her son Garrett was hit by a drunk driver on the side of a highway while waiting for his car to be towed.

Mary Helena, an African-American actress and storyteller from urban Wisconsin, suffered a debilitating stroke less than a year after her son Aaron was killed in a triple homicide.

Anne is married to an advertising executive in San Francisco and works as a volunteer for a local children’s charity. Her daughter Grace died of suicide at the age of 15.

Kathy, a suburban mom from Santa Rosa, California, works in a hospital emergency room. Her husband is a local police officer. Their son Mike died in a motorcycle accident.

Barbara, a nursing student from the small town of Dixon, California, is struggling with her impending divorce. Her marriage began to unravel after her son Jason died in a head-on collision.

Lauren is a 22-year-old student from Oakland, California, and the youngest member of the group. Her older brother, Teveston, was killed by angry gang members who retaliated when he refused to join.

These six remarkable women travel half way around the world where they live with local families and work with African organizations dedicated to improving the lives of children. As they come to know each other, they assist teachers in overcrowded day care centers, lead activities with abused and at-risk teens and help care for physically challenged youth. The work is meaningful and rewarding and a welcome reprieve from the depression, isolation and stagnation of life at home. In the end, the women share not just their stories and their pain but themselves – with and for each other and even more profoundly, with the children who touch their hearts at every turn.

Motherland was the winner of the 2009 Emerging Visions Audience Award at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival. Its other awards include the Jury Prize for Best Feature at the 2009 Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival and Best Documentary at the 2009 California Independent Film Festival. 

Finding Face

Showing at the Portland Women's Film Festival: Finding Face, directed by Patti Duncan and Skye Fitzgerald

Synopsis from the film's website:

Finding Face details the controversial case of Tat Marina, who was attacked with acid in Cambodia in 1999. At 16, Marina was a rising star in Phnom Penh’s karaoke music scene. She was coerced into an abusive relationship with Cambodia’s Undersecretary of State, Svay Sitha, and subsequently doused with a liter of nitric acid—allegedly by his wife—that disfigured her face. A decade later, despite the fact that there were multiple witnesses to the crime, no charges have ever been filed in the case.

The film contextualizes acid violence in Cambodia as both a human rights violation and a gender-based form of violence. In it, human rights workers and survivors of acid attacks discuss the many challenges faced by victims, as well as what they see as a culture of impunity surrounding violence against women. They also discuss the rise in acid violence following Marina’s attack, a result of the public’s awareness that perpetrators are unlikely to face any serious penalties.

Marina, who was granted asylum to enter the U.S., struggles to emerge from a shattered self-image and escape a constant state of fear. She breaks her long silence with the hope that she can gain some form of justice, if not in the state judicial system then at least in the court of public opinion.

Hey Hey It's Esther Blueburger

I often wonder why New York can't be more like Portland, and the existence of the Portland Women's Film Festival just added some fuel to the fire.

Showing at the Portland Women's Film Festival: Hey Hey It's Esther Blueburger, written and directed by Cathy Randall

Synopsis from the movie's Facebook page (the website seems to be down):

Hey Hey It's Esther Blueburger is a coming of age comedy that explores what it’s really like to be an outsider in your own world. Esther (newcomer Danielle Catanzariti) is not like other girls; she befriends a duck, talks to god through the toilet and break-dances at her bat-mtizvah. Her all-girls private school is a daily torment of mind-numbing conformity and bell-ringing rituals. Home is a pressure cooker driven by her mother Grace’s (Essie Davis) demand for perfection. But life changes when Esther meets Sunni, (Keisha Castle- Hughes) and her mother Mary (Toni Collette). She learns that it’s ok to be different and being true to yourself is more important than fitting in.

When We Leave

Showing at the Tribeca Film Festival: When We Leave, directed by Feo Aladag

Synopsis from the TFF website:

When young Turkish-German woman Umay can no longer stand her husband's ill-treatment, she flees from Istanbul with her five-year-old son into the arms of her family in Berlin. But love, affection, and loyalty soon become irrelevant as they struggle to reconcile Umay's willful self-determination with the social system that governs their lives. This passion piece on female flight from oppression builds its considerable dramatic intensity to a glowing payoff.

The movie's website is only in German, for now.

The Other City

Showing at the Tribeca Film Festival: The Other City, directed by Susan Koch

Synopsis from the film's website:

In every city, there's another city that people rarely ever see.

But this other city isn't just anywhere — it's in the capital of the most powerful country in the world. This is a story about sex and drugs, homelessness and health care. About politics and ideology, corruption and bureaucracy. About an epidemic that grew out of control while few people paid any attention or cared. This is a story about people who live in the shadow of the Capitol but remain almost invisible to the lawmakers and lobbyists who work there. This is the story of The Other City — "Washington" to most, "D.C." to its residents — a city that boasts a higher rate of HIV/AIDS than some countries in Africa and Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Told through intimate, character-driven stories, and with unprecedented access to those living on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic, this documentary offers a raw, personal look at the "two Washingtons" — one that is affluent and powerful, the other that is overwhelmingly poor and powerless. And while Washington D.C. has the highest HIV/AIDS rates in the U.S., there are several cities across America that are also dealing with epidemic-like numbers.

With a disease that knows no borders, The Other City will resonate with a worldwide audience and speak to the disparities and inequities that exist in cities all over the world.


Showing at the Tribeca Film Festival: Snap, directed by Carmel Winters

Synopsis from the TFF website:

With a fresh and intense style, playwright-turned-director Carmel Winters composes a gripping psychological drama about three generations of a family poised to repeat the mistakes of the past. Aisling O'Sullivan (The War Zone) commands the screen as a calloused mother who will do anything to protect her son—even go as far to deny her own past. From the producers of TFF award winner Eden and the Academy Award® winner Once.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

No Woman, No Cry

Showing at the Tribeca Film Festival: No Woman, No Cry, directed by Christy Turlington Burns

Synopsis from the TFF website:

More than half a million women each year die from preventable complications during pregnancy or childbirth. In her gripping directorial debut, Christy Turlington Burns shares the powerful stories of pregnant women in four parts of the world, including a remote Maasai tribe in East Africa, a slum of Bangladesh, a post-abortion care ward in Guatemala, and a prenatal clinic in the United States.

Interview with Christy Turlington Burns (who knew?):


Showing at the Tribeca Film Festival: Budrus, directed by Julia Bacha

Synopsis from the film's website:

A Palestinian leader unites Fatah, Hamas and Israelis in an unarmed movement to save his village from destruction. Success eludes them until his 15-year-old daughter jumps into the fray.

Ayed Morrar, an unlikely Palestinian community organizer, unites all Palestinian political factions and Israelis. Together, they wage a lengthy lunch-counter-sit-in-style unarmed struggle to save his village from destruction by Israel’s Separation Barrier. Victory seems improbable until his 15-year-old daughter, Iltezam, launches a women’s contingent that quickly moves to the front lines. They not only save the village, but the Barrier is pushed back behind the Green Line into No Man’s Land. In the process, Ayed and Iltezam unleash an inspiring, yet little-known, movement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories that is still gaining ground today. In an action-filled documentary featuring archival footage of this movement from its infancy, Budrus will inspire and challenge audiences worldwide. The movie is directed by award-winning filmmaker Julia Bacha (Control Room, Encounter Point), and produced by Bacha, Palestinian journalist Rula Salameh, and filmmaker and human rights advocate Ronit Avni (formerly of WITNESS, Director of Encounter Point).

While this film is about one Palestinian village, it tells a much bigger story about what is possible in the Middle East. Ayed succeeded in doing what many people believe to be impossible: he united all Palestinian factions, including Fatah and Hamas; he brought women to the heart of the struggle through the leadership of his daughter, Iltezam; and he encouraged hundreds of Israelis to cross into Palestinian territory for the first time and join a nonviolent movement.

Budrus includes diverse voices from the leaders of the movement to the Israeli border police officers stationed in the village at that time. While many documentaries about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict either romanticize the notion of peace, or dwell entirely on the suffering of victims to the conflict, this film focuses on the success of a Palestinian-led nonviolent movement. The protagonists not only succeeded in moving the separation barrier completely off Palestinian lands, they also build lasting relationships between Fatah, Hamas and Israeli activists that continue to this day and serve as a model to other communities. The story of Budrus represents what could happen in the region — provided people know about it.


Opening this weekend at Cinema Village in New York: Kimjongilia, directed by N.C. Heikin

Synopsis from the film's website:

North Korea is one of the world’s most isolated nations. For sixty years, North Koreans have been governed by a totalitarian regime that controls all information entering and leaving the country. A cult of personality surrounds its two recent leaders: first, Kim Il Sung, and now his son, Kim Jong Il. For Kim Jong Il’s 46th birthday, a hybrid red begonia named kimjongilia was created, symbolizing wisdom, love, justice, and peace. The film draws its name from the rarefied flower and reveals the extraordinary stories told by survivors of North Korea’s vast prison camps, of devastating famine, and of every kind of repression. All of the interviews featured took place in South Korea, where the defectors now live. Their experiences are interspersed with archival footage of North Korean propaganda films and original scenes that illuminate the contours of daily life for a people whose every action is monitored and whose every thought could bring official retribution. Along with the survivors’ stories, Kimjongilia examines the mass illusion possible under totalitarianism and the human rights abuses required to maintain that illusion. Ultimately, the defectors are inspiring, for despite the extremes they have suffered, they still hold out hope for a better future.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Netflix It: 2 Days in Paris

Available from Netflix: 2 Days in Paris, written and directed by Julie Delpy

I loved this movie—it was hilarious, original and felt true. Plus, loads of Parisian eye candy (the architecture, people). It's actually available to watch instantly, so as long as you're on the Internet, you might as well check it out right now. Shoo. I'll be here when you get back.

Synopsis from AllMovie:

Ingenue Julie Delpy does triple duty as writer, director, and star of this romantic comedy. French photographer Marion (Delpy) and American interior designer Jack (Adam Goldberg) are returning from a vacation in Venice. Despite the fact that it was supposed to be the ultimate romantic getaway, disagreements and misunderstandings seemed to drive them farther apart rather than bringing them closer together. Before they return to the United States, Marion and Jack have a quick two-day stop in Paris to visit Marion's parents and pick up the cat that they had been pet-setting for their daughter. Unfortunately for Jack, Paris proves to be quite a culture shock. Not only are Marion's parents a pair of eccentric former "revolutionaries" who make no qualms about having knock-down-drag-out arguments regardless of who's present, but they also appear to have a particular distaste for Americans. Add to this the fact that Marion's friends hold nothing back when it comes to discussing their sexual lives, seem fixated on food rituals, and that Marion seems to run into former lovers on every street corner, and Jack quickly begins to suspect that he doesn't know his girlfriend half as well as he thought he did when they were living the simple life back in New York.

Other Films at SXSW

Other women-directed movies that will be screening at SXSW:

Amer, directed by Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani

Google Baby, directed by Zippi Brand Frank

How to Fold a Flag, directed by Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker

The Freebie, written and directed by Katie Aselton

The Runaways, directed by Flora Sigismundi

Winter's Bone, directed by Debra Granik

Friday, March 12, 2010

Netflix It: Morvern Callar

Available from Netflix: Morvern Callar, directed by Lynne Ramsay

Personally, I didn't love this movie, but it got an 84% fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes, so your opinion may differ.

Synopsis from AllMovie:

A woman's life is set onto a new path by tragedy and confusion in this offbeat drama from maverick director Lynne Ramsay. Morvern Callar (Samantha Morton) is a woman in her early twenties who wakes up in her flat in a small Scottish town on Christmas morning to a rather unpleasant surprise -- her live-in boyfriend has committed suicide, and his body lies on the floor in a pool of blood. She discovers that he has left a short message for her on the screen of his personal computer ("I love you. Be brave."), as well as the text of a novel he had recently completed. Changing the name on the title page to her own, Morvern begins sending the manuscript out to publishers without having actually read it. Eventually, Morvern disposes of her boyfriend's body, scrubs away the evidence of his suicide, and attempts to reintegrate herself with the world, though the shocking events seems to have built a wall between her and those around her, and she is unable to explain what has happened to anyone, even her best friend, Lanna (Kathleen McDermott). Eventually, Morvern draws the last of her boyfriend's money from the bank and treats herself and Lanna to a short vacation in Spain, where they become friendly with a group of hedonistic British expatriates and soon find their friendship stretched to the breaking point. Morvern Callar was based on the novel by Alan Warner; it was originally intended to be Lynne Ramsay's first directorial effort, but she was able to complete her film Ratcatcher before securing funding for this project.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

On the Other Side of Life

Showing at SXSW: On the Other Side of Life, directed by Stefanie Brockhaus and Andy Wolff

Synopsis from the film's website:

Lucky and Bongani pretend to be cool and in the know. To survive in a Cape Town township, they learned their lessons early: where to get drugs, where to get money, how to pick up girls and how to get rid of them.

Their mother does not pay much attention to her sons, but at least their grandmother is on their side. The two brothers share everything: the bed, the food and now even an accusation of murder. The first thing they get in prison is an unmistakable lesson about the rules there. No question, newcomers are always at the bottom of the hierarchy. They must learn quickly who may be attacked and who must be served. A matter of survival in jail.

Out on bail, something special awaits them – an initiation of a different kind.

The brothers move through three cultures, each of which calls for its own gestures and rituals. The deep rift between the generations becomes painfully obvious. The old people still have the sense of honour of African tradition; their successors have only a tiny chance of escaping the squalid suburbs. What will be their package in life?

Through a clever dramatic narrative structure, the film rises above a social environment study to become a far-ranging discourse about the future of an Africa ground to pieces between tradition and modernity.

See the trailer here.

The DeVilles

Showing at SXSW: The DeVilles, directed by Nicole N. Horanyi

Synopsis from the film's website:

The love between the American burlesque stripper Teri Lee Geary (aka Kitten DeVille) and her punk rock singer husband Shawn Geary is strong but rather complicated. They live in their own time bubble, hers from the 1950's and his from the 1980's. It applies to their looks, their home and their lifestyle. Teri looks like Marilyn Monroe and Shawn looks like Joe Strummer from The Clash. All of a sudden their 25-year-long relationship and their lifestyle have a down side. But how do they move on?

The Ride

Showing at SXSW: The Ride, directed by Meredith Danluck

Synopsis from the film's website:

The idea of the cowboy and the American West is set firmly in the American psyche. Countless films have portrayed the West as a place of freedom and danger, but, above all, a place of boundless possibility. Though we may think they are a thing of the past, cowboys still exist, and the professional bull riding circuit is the one place you’re guaranteed to find them. The cowboys’ earnest reflections on personal liberty, family struggle and the country’s changing identity paint a vivid portrait of an America both at odds and in love with itself. Through the film’s epic cinematography we come to understand that The Cowboy continues to embody the mythology of the American hero, though in an entirely modern way.

The Professional Bull Riders’ circuit is a tour of the top 45 bull riders in the world, consisting of roughly 32 stops a year around the US. The winner of the world title in Vegas also wins a million dollars, so it’s safe to say this is not some little backyard rodeo. Bull riding has entered the mainstream. Droves of fans flock to the sold out arenas toting signs and banners in frenzied support of their favorite riders, making this the fastest growing sport in America. All the while the cowboys are hustling, trying to stay on their bulls, trying to make ends meet and raising hell… good ol’ boy style!

Beginning and ending with explosive event footage and packed with daredevil bull riding, pyrotechnics and big arena rock and roll fanfare, The Ride goes full circle as it takes us through the complex lives of one compelling character to the next. The characters surprise with their gritty cowboy personas and genuine wit.

The Ride features professional bull riders JB Mauney, Amish hopeful Willy Ropp, PBR entertainer Flint Rassmussen, bull fighter Shorty Gorham, talented singer songwriter Leann Hart, millionaire bucking bull breeder Tom Teague and an original score by Brooklyn band The Weight.

Barbershop Punk

Showing at SXSW: Barbershop Punk, directed by Georgia Sugimura Archer and Kristin Armfield

Synopsis from the movie's website:

Is “The Man” controlling the vertical, the horizontal and the channel you’ll be on?

In a privatized American Internet, is big business “Big Brother” or does the free market protect and serve the needs of the average citizen with its invisible hand? With the simple act of swapping files, barbershop quartet baritone Robb Topolski finds himself at ground zero of a landmark case whose outcome will affect the rights of every American citizen.

Following one man’s personal quest to defend what he believes to be his inalienable rights, Barbershop Punk examines the critical issues surrounding the future of the American Internet and what it takes to challenge the status quo.

Keeping the independent/punk spirit alive, barbershop quartet fan Robb Topolski takes on the nation’s largest cable company, only to find himself at the center of a federal investigation, inspiring a larger story of censorship, individual voice and access.

Contemplating the future of the American Internet and the inalienable rights under review, the film features discussions with Ian MacKaye, Damian Kulash of OK Go, Henry Rollins, Janeane Garofalo, EFF’s John Perry Barlow, U.S. Congressmen Chip Pickering, Congressman Marsha Blackburn, Free Form DJ Jim Ladd, Clinton White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry, Michelle Combs of the Christian Coalition, Songwriters Guild President Rick Carnes, NARAL’s Ted Miller, lobbyist Jack Burkman, FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, among others.